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Nancy Kerrigan on a New Rink: ‘Saturday Night Live’

March 10, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Nancy Kerrigan 3/8 You won a silver medal at the Winter Olympics and grumbled about the skater who took the gold 3/8 You went to Disney World and seemed to call the parade they threw for you ″the most corny thing I’ve ever done″ 3/8

What will you do now?

You’ll host ″Saturday Night Live,″ of course 3/8

For what could prove a triple lutz in Nancy’s long program to establish herself as not just a great skater but a good skate, she will take a whirl at comedy at 11:30 p.m. EST Saturday on NBC.

The musical guest is Aretha Franklin - ″that is, if she can get her skates on in time,″ Kerrigan jokes in a promo already airing.

Not exactly a knee-slapper (oops, strike that reference), but this 10- second spot confirms that Nancy is the most refreshingly quirky choice to host ″Saturday Night″ in many moons.

Of course, ″SNL″ through the years has been a useful forum for notables of all stripes to show they can laugh at their own eminence - or at least pretend to in a drive to further enhance it.

Among the program’s earliest, and unlikeliest, hosts were otherwise cheerless consumer advocate Ralph Nader and presidential press secretary Ron Nessen, who in one skit played himself in service to a doltish Gerald Ford portrayed, as usual, by Chevy Chase.

If THEY could get laughs - and they did - then Kerrigan ought to glide through her hosting chores in Studio 8-H.

The rewards are obvious. A good ″SNL″ showing will round out her appeal, as if being an Olympic medalist, breathtaking athlete, courageous individual and beautiful young woman weren’t enough.

But they aren’t, at least to score sixes in the arena in which she now finds herself: that of media celebrity. Here a silver medal isn’t really enough. Nancy also needs a silver tongue.

And to be a full-fledged ″personality,″ sooner or later she’s going to need to show some. Off the ice, this seems to be a problem. In interviews, Kerrigan skates in wet cement. She must think ″bon mot″ is a relative of skier Tommy Moe. So far, her bid for ″Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations″ is ″Why me?″ - and Kris Kristofferson beat her to that one 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, her pristine, ingenuish image has been punctured by what seems to be incipient crankiness ill-befitting America’s Girl Next Door. And as for ankling Lillehammer early, Magic Kingdom-bound? Points off for bad form, Nancy.

Thus does Kerrigan report for ″Saturday Night Live″ not just to unveil a new facet of herself. She also will perform a little damage control in an effort to show that when they’re not on the ice, her feet don’t automatically fly into her mouth.

″I’m not somebody with a script,″ Nancy whimpered, apparently off-the- cuff, as the damage control began with her appearance Tuesday on ″Dateline NBC.″

″I’ve been, like, living in a fish bowl,″ she announced to her audience of millions. ″It’s not fair that they’ve put me up on that pedestal. Because I didn’t want to be there.″

She also confessed that she isn’t perfect. No joke.

At the very least, Kerrigan seems to have minimal understanding of the scramble for stardom she’s now part of.

Justifiably a source of national pride and justifiably cashing in on it, Kerrigan is coining the silver she claims to be too modest to wear. She is selling soup, running shoes, cosmetics, the Disney empire - and herself.

The higher her pedestal, the higher her asking price. Of course, she wants to be there. Which is why she’s hosting ″Saturday Night Live.″

Kerrigan’s Olympic rival Tonya Harding would seem more at one with ″SNL″ and its brash, unpredictable, naughty, occasionally cruel, often unhinged and perversely entertaining tradition. But Saturday night, she’ll be there in spirit. Maybe in effigy.

At the same time, maybe Nancy Kerrigan will reveal herself as more than a symbol who skates.

In any case, for those 90 minutes she’ll be somebody who does have a script. And with any luck, a funny one.

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